Getting a good nights sleep is just as important as exercising and eating well when it comes to achieving overall health and wellness. However, unlike exercise and diet, sleep might often feel like something that’s a lot more out of our control. Sure, we can make dietary changes or get to the gym more often, but what happens when even after trying as hard as we can, we simply cannot get a good nights sleep?
There are obviously certain life situations that might prevent adequate sleep (kids, long work hours, etc.) but sometimes, even when you should be tired and have the option to sleep, it’s not always that easy. Our bodies naturally respond to a variety of environmental factors that can have a huge impact on our ability to achieve a proper nights sleep. Although seemingly unrelated, things like the time of year, the weather, the foods we eat and blue light emitted from computers and televisions can all have an affect on our ability to achieve a proper nights sleep.
Sleep has always been a huge priority of mine and although I thought I might outgrow it, I’ve always needed a bit more sleep than most other people I know. If I don’t get at least 8 hours a night, I don’t feel totally rested the next morning. Somewhere between 8-9 hours is my sweet spot. However, just because I need that much sleep doesn’t mean that you do. Experiment and figure out what works for you and strive to get that amount each night. Personally, when I don’t get the amount of sleep I need, not only do I feel groggy and tired the next day but a lack of sleep also always seems to lead to a sluggish immune function and eventually, sickness. Over the years I’ve discovered several tricks, or hacks if you will, that help ensure that I’ll have a good nights sleep. The best part about them is that they don’t require a huge change in your lifestyle and are all relatively simple to adopt into your routine.
1. Set the mood. There’s nothing like loud music, bright lights or talking on the phone to keep you from getting sleepy. Personally, I love to dim the lights when it starts to get close to that time of night, enjoy a cup of tea and light a few candles. Our bodies are very sensitive to our surroundings so it’s important to surround ourselves with things that make us feel relaxed if we have any chance of falling asleep. Two of my favorite night-time teas right now are both made by Pukka Herbs. Their Love and Detox varieties are both perfect for winding down at night. Find a tea that you love (and make sure it doesn’t have caffeine) plus a candle that you enjoy and make it your pre-bed ritual.
2. Download f.lux onto your computer. This might be my favorite tip on this entire list. I discovered f.lux a couple of years ago and tell nearly everyone I know about it. As I mentioned earlier, our bodies are very susceptible to environmental factors when it comes to sleep and one of those factors is light. Our bodies have their own internal clock, called a circadian rhythm and exposure to light, specifically blue light, emitted from computers, cell phones and televisions can have a detrimental effect on our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. During the day, blue light doesn’t pose a huge issue as it has actually been shown to boost attentiveness and mood, but at night, our bodies are tricked into thinking they should still be awake for a longer period of time keeping us from getting the sleep we need. They key is to limit exposure to blue light after the sun sets and until it rises again the next morning. Of course, it’s unrealistic to think that we can just sign off of all of our devices when the sun sets, especially now that the sun is setting so much earlier. So what are we to do? f.lux to the rescue! f.lux is free software you can download onto your computer that automatically switches the light on your screen to a more golden, orange tone when the sun sets. It changes slowly to the point where you won’t even notice it working behind the scenes. Not sure if it’s working? After the sun sets, once you’ve gotten used to the light, switch it off. You will be shocked at how bright and harsh the blue light feels and you will never want to go back!
3. Buy some orange-tinted glasses. Here’s another blue-light blocking trick. In case f.lux isn’t your thing and because blue light is emitted from more than just a computer screen, buying a pair of orange-tinted glasses is a fantastic, albeit not that stylish trick. You can buy a super cheap pair on Amazon if you don’t mind what they look like, or you can opt for a much more stylish option from companies such as Gunnar. Just as the sun starts to go down, wearing blue-blocking glasses can help prevent the suppression of melatonin, which is one of our hormones that helps regulate our circadian rhythm.
4. Consider supplements. While I am extremely anti-sleeping medication, certain supplements are a fantastic, natural way to support healthy sleep. Two of my favorite supplements for sleep are made by Pure Encapsulations. Pure Encapsulations produces exceptionally high-quality, hypoallergenic supplements free of hidden fillers, coatings, artificial colors, wheat, gluten, nuts and hydrogenated oils. I am a strong believer that supplements should be used strategically and ideally, with the guidance of a practitioner who can accurately prescribe exactly what you need. For me, after undergoing extensive testing for hormonal acne several months back, my tests showed that I was deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is important for healthy digestive function, something I’ve struggled with for my entire life and, it has also been shown to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone. Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycerinate is a part of my daily routine and certainly helps me to relax and fall asleep at night. For my fiancé who struggles a lot more than me with getting a good nights sleep, taking Pure Encapsulations Best Rest supplement 30-60 before bed has helped him stay asleep throughout the night.
5. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re anything like me, the stress of not getting enough sleep is almost worse than the lack of sleep itself. When I can’t fall asleep at night my mind starts to race with frustration and fear of how I will feel the next day. Instead of “trying harder” to fall asleep, I’ve learned that actually getting up, taking a few deep breaths, having a sip or water and distracting myself with a book or magazine helps tremendously. If your nighttime rituals didn’t work the first time around, they might the second time. There’s no point laying wide awake in bed stressed. You might as well do something that makes you feel happy and relaxed. Chances are, it will help you fall back asleep. And, if all else fails, getting a poor night sleep is not the end of the world. There are always naps and the next night to make up for it!
Disclosure: I received products and payment from Pure Encapsulations as compensation for this post, and Pure Encapsulations did not influence my opinion of this or any other product. All views and opinions expressed in the post are my own and no other compensation was provided.